Rural Sociological Approaches to Sustainable Agriculture:: A Systematic Literature Review

Joost Dessein (Speaker)

    Activity: Talk or presentationLecture and oral contribution

    Description

    In the slipstream of the expanding sustainable development concept, ‘sustainable agriculture’ emerged in the end of the 80’s and the early 90’s . Already from its inception, scholars and practitioners were pointing at the need to clarify what ‘sustainable agriculture’ means in order to make it an applicable concept. However, sustainability has always remained a controversial and diffuse concept (Rosset & Altieri, 1997) and more than two decades after the launching of the term, the meaning and role ‘sustainable agriculture’ is still being negotiated.
    This paper reviews how the concept ‘sustainable agriculture’ is approached in rural sociology. Based on a literature search within the databases of Sociological Abstracts and Web of Science, a comprehensive sample of 240 journal articles was obtained . These articles were found with a search query for articles that contained the words ‘sustainability’ or ‘sustainable’, and ‘agriculture’ or ‘farming’ in their abstracts.
    Based on a systematic analysis of this body of journal articles, the paper structures the manifold meanings and approaches to sustainable agriculture that are taken within rural sociology. Structuring dimensions include a temporal dimension (from an end goal definition to a process approach), a spatial dimension (from local to global) and an epistemological dimension (from realist to constructivist). Additionally, the paper analyses how sustainable agriculture is treated in respect to its ecological, economic, social and cultural) dimensions of sustainability, and the types of actors that are considered as (potential) co-constitutors of the definition of sustainable agriculture.
    The paper concludes by discussing these structuring dimensions with reference to a number of topical issues that are influenced by the way sustainable agriculture is conceptualized, governed, implemented and practiced, such as multifunctional agriculture, place-based and neo-endogenous rural development, conventional and organic farming systems, civic and urban agriculture and other emerging practices.
    Period29-Jul-20132-Aug-2013
    Event typeOther
    LocationFlorence, Belgium
    Degree of RecognitionInternational